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Some of the Year's Best Kids Picture Books, 2011

<img src="http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/files/santacruz/2011WinterNewsletterCov... align=right hspace=5 />These recommendations from our staff were published in our <a href="http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/2011-winter-newsletter">2011 Winter Newsletter</a>.
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<quote>“I closed my eyes, put my right hand on top of the book, and passed it lightly across the cover. It was cool and smooth like a stone from the bottom of the brook, and it stilled me. A whole other world is inside there, I thought to myself, and that’s where I want to be.” <br><align=right>—from Katherine Hannigan’s new book for 10- to12-year olds, <i>True (…sort of</i>). Greenwillow Books </align></quote>

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems collected by Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Yolen and Karas’ gorgeous midnight-blue volume of bedtime poetry includes a counting-sheep rhyme murmured by a sleepless shepherd: One ewe/One ram,/Two sheep,/One lamb,/Three sheep,/One flock,/ Four gates,/One lock,/Five folds,/One light,/Good dog,/Good night. Like Goodnight Moon, this is a comforting world with a wash of mystery.Preschool–kindergarten.

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Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems Cover Image
By Jane Yolen (Compiled by), Andrew Fusek Peters (Compiled by), G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780763642495
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Candlewick - September 14th, 2010

My Side of the Car written by Kate Feiffer and illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Two Feiffers meet at the intersection of seriousness and silliness in this brief story about a trip to the zoo in which it is raining on one side of the car, but definitely not on the other. While maintaining a narrative that is clear, endearing, and humorous, daughter (Kate) and father (Jules) raise questions about the fallibility of memory and the stability of reality. And if the story is not enough, they include the real-life dialogue that inspired it as backmatter. The best part is, no one—not Kate, not Jules, and not the reader—knows what “really” happened that day. Ages 4 and up.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
My Side of the Car Cover Image
By Kate Feiffer, Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780763644055
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Candlewick - April 26th, 2011

Drawing from Memory written & illustrated by Allen Say

“Say tells the story of his decidedly nontraditional Japanese upbringing, supplying watercolors, photographs, and humorous sketches to create a vivid record of life in postwar Tokyo.…As the story of a young artist’s coming of age, Say’s account is complex, poignant, and unfailingly honest. Say’s fans—and those who also feel the pull of the artist’s life—will be captivated.” (Publishers Weekly). Part photo album, part sketchbook, part graphic novel, part picture book, and entirely moving. Grades 4 and up.

Drawing From Memory Cover Image
By Allen Say, Allen Say (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780545176866
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - September 1st, 2011

Meadowlands written & illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski

Yezerski’s newest book is the pictorial history of an intertidal zone that has been in use for thousands of years: by the plants and animals that first lived in it; by the Lenape tribe who lived with it; by the European settlers who cut down, filled in, and planted upon it; by the 20th-century inhabitants who built highways, airports, and factories, and dumped trash and industrial wastes into it; and now by a new generation of activists and schoolchildren who work to turn the area from the noxious dump it was into a place that can once again support life. Yezerski tells this story through frank text and panoramic pen-and-ink spreads with watercolor wash, framed by cleverly chosen thumbnail sketches that relate to each landscape (such as swamp mosquitoes, candy wrappers, cordgrass, dioxins, muskets, and muskrats). This is the story of a New Jersey estuary, but could as easily have been about the Watsonville wetlands. Grades 1–4. —Gā & Holly

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374349134
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - March 1st, 2011

Orani written & illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

In this autobiographical picture book, Claire A. Nivola (Planting the Trees of Kenya) recalls her childhood memories of her father’s birthplace on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Nivola’s lucid prose and paintings (reminiscent of Carmen Lomas Garza’s Family Pictures and Barbara Cooney’s Island Boy) immerse the reader in a sensory experience—the intensity of sunlight, the sweetness of fruit, the annoyance of flies, the “unspeakable strangeness of death.” Although an author’s note gives context to the era in which the narrative takes place, the story recalls a time of life before that context is necessarily important, in which events—birth, death, the eating of a fig, the baking of bread—simply happen, moment to moment. In this way, Nivola nearly slips into romanticism, but only just enough to make us fall in love with the beautiful Orani. Grades 1–4.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
Orani: My Father's Village Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374356576
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - July 19th, 2011

Mirror written & Illustrated by Jeannie Baker

This conceptually original picture book in English and Arabic contains two stories to be read simultaneously, one from left to right about a day in the life of a boy in Sydney, Australia, and the other from right to left about a similar day for a boy in rural Morocco. Each page shows, side by side, an activity(breakfast, a trip to the metropolis, going to the store) illustrated in Baker’s meticulous collage. More than an impressive picture-puzzle book (though it is certainly that), her ingenious tableaus compel us to slow down and notice the delightful, surprising similarities and differences in the lives of these two individuals. Beautiful and thought-provoking. Ages 4–10.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
Mirror Cover Image
By Jeannie Baker, Jeannie Baker (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9780763648480
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick - November 9th, 2010

Me…Jane written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

I’ve always been drawn to nature journaling—the sort of doodling/sketching you do that allows you to see an object more clearly than you would if you weren’t drawing it. This picture book biography is a nature journal of sorts. Certainly its clarity is almost sublime. Jane, a small girl in England, studies nature and records her increasingly complex impressions in sepia ink on cream-colored paper. By contrast, McDonnell’s ink and watercolor drawings are sweet and a little goofy. In a sly reference to Burroughs’ Tarzan, we see the small child swinging through her jungle of yard in a cardigan and plaid skirt. “One day,” McDonnell writes, “curious Jane wondered where eggs came from. So she… snuck into Grandma Nutt’s chicken coop…hid beneath some straw, stayed very still…and observed the miracle.” Both hen and child have expressions of surprise. Jane dreams of traveling to Africa, and in a wonderful sequence, goes to sleep in her bed with her toy chimpanzee (page turn), wakes as an adult in her tent in Africa (page turn), and realizes her dream, illustrated by a stunning use of the iconic photograph of young primatologist Jane Goodall and a very young primate reaching across species to take one another’s hand. I’ve never seen better use of mixed media in a picture book. Only Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Keats’ Snowy Day, and Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon come this close to perfection. Ages 5 and up.

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Me . . . Jane Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316045469
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 5th, 2011

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